|Photo Credit: Caomhan Ó Raghallaigh
Thank you to the organizers with GetEqual for inviting me here today.
I’m Daniel Williams with Equality Texas. Most of you know me. Most of you have marched and sung by my side.
A few of you have been handcuffed to me.
There are 181 members of the Texas Legislature.
They meet for 140 days on odd numbered years.
There are 19 monuments on the Texas Capitol grounds.
They serve to remind those 181 people, throughout those 140 days of the great and good of the State of Texas.
To my right is a memorial to the fallen volunteer firefighters. Over to my left is a monument to Tejano Texans. Behind the capitol can be found a monument to Texas’ pioneer women.
But there are some monuments conspicuously missing from the capitol grounds.
- There is no monument to the 9,931 same-gender couples raising children in this state.
- There is no obelisk raised in commemoration of the 26% of Transgender Texans who’ve reported losing a job because of their gender expression or identity.There is no plaque dedicated to the 9 out of 10 LGBT teens who experience harassment at school.
- No memorial to the 6,642 Texans with a history of gender transition who cannot obtain identification that accurately reflects their gender identity, or to the 3% of them who will be physically attacked when they can’t produce correct ID.
- No epitaph for last year’s 989 hate crime victims.
You, you must be the monument.
You must be the reminder, the daily sentinel of these Texas lives.
These monuments around you, the great warriors astride and the towering pentacles of stone are here always, eternal reminders to the 181 decision makers and for their allotted 140 days.
You are here today, a testament to the true will of the people of Texas, but when you leave here tonight, you take your testament with you.
You take with you the only reminder that the 181 people in this building may ever see that there is a vibrant community of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer people in this state groaning under the oppression of a legal system that is at best indifferent and at worst maleficent.
You must be the monument to this struggle. Which means – you must return.
There are 181 people in that building who get to make the decisions. Two of them are there to represent you.
- Do they know who are you?
- Do they know what you want from them?
- Do they know the pain and suffering that the decisions made in that building cause to your community?
- Do they?
“This is me. This is who I am. You can like me or hate me but you will think of me. You will pay attention to me because I am here…
and I AM EQUAL!